Thursday, April 27, 2006

Specter, the Senate and the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program

This is a preliminary shell of an article (or entry, if you prefer) that aims to capture some of the tension between Congress and the President on this timely subject.

H.R.5020 Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, passed the House 327 - 96 on April 26, 2006. Part of that negotiation was blocking of H.R.4976, "To reiterate that chapters 119 and 121 of title 18, United States Code, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 are the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance may be conducted."

The blocking of the latter is not "direct" as one might think, and is contained in a failed "Motion to Recommit", by Mr. Schiff, viewable here starting at page 1809. The motion to recommit (with instructions) failed on a 195 - 230 vote.

This article in Jurist contains a bit more, and links to an Associated Press story, as well as to Senator Specter's expressed intention to consider similar "fund blocking" legislation in the Senate.


Congressional Record: April 27, 2006 (Senate)
Page S53726

AMENDMENTS SUBMITTED AND PROPOSED

SA 3679. Mr. SPECTER submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 4939, making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

On page 253, between lines 19 and 20, insert the following:

PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR DOMESTIC ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE FOR FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE PURPOSES UNLESS CONGRESS IS KEPT FULLY AND CURRENTLY INFORMED

Sec. 7032. (a) Prohibition.--No funds appropriated by this or any other Act may be obligated or expended to carry out the NSA program, or any other program of electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes, unless each of the following is met:
(1) The Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives, and each member of such committee, are kept fully and currently informed of such program in accordance with section 502 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 413a).
(2) The Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives are kept fully and currently informed of such program in accordance with section 503 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 413b).
(b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the Executive Branch should inform the members of the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the NSA program and any other program described in subsection (a) in sufficient detail so as to facilitate and ensure the discharge by such Committees of their oversight responsibilities to determine the constitutionality of Executive Branch actions.
(c) NSA Program Defined.--In this section, the term ``NSA program'' means the program of the National Security Agency on electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes the existence of which has been acknowledged by President George W. Bush and other Executive Branch officials on and after December 17, 2005, any unacknowledged part of the program, and any associated National Security Agency programs or activities.

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